By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — There were over 1100 in attendance at the previous celebration of the historic two schools, Austin and the emergence of the new school after a merger in 1964, Austin East. The year 2019 will celebrate 140 years of the resilience of African American history and the education of the children.
Celebrated since 1979, the 2019 reunion ,which will be held on July 6th in Knoxville, will see a new changing of the guard as the vice president. George Underwood, President of the Class of 1977, takes the helm of this massive undertaking under the watchful eye and guidance of Robert Booker who has previously led the last reunions
which are held every five years and have grown tremendously since the first 500 were in attendance.
Austin High School for Black children was established in 1879 by Emily Austin. That building served the children of the African American community until 1916 when the Knoxville Colored High School was built and served the community until 1928. Austin High would build two more
buildings until the school now known as Austin East was formed in 1967 after the merger of Austin and East High Schools.
Always promoting education, the Alumni Association gives out scholarships during the reunion and to date has given over 33,000 dollars to assist those of the student body in furthering their education.
This reunion is considered unique one of the largest of its type in the nation. Now in the planning stages for the next reunion to be held in 2019, the association is in process of reaching out to find members of each class to serve on the planning committee to get the word out across the nation and the world to prepare to come home and remember , reflect, and celebrate.
Those with information to share about the location of members of the Austin and Austin East classes are urged to contact Rev. Renee
Kesler at the Beck Cultural Center via their web site or call 865-524-8461.